Hello everyone, Spy here, nudging his backpack casually towards the fire exit, ready to make a break for it the moment the clock strikes five. In this day and age most people will be unfamiliar with the concept of the full works shutdown. To paint the picture, the scene this evening will be not unlike kicking-out time on the last day of school term before the summer holidays – but without the discipline.
Basically, we'll all run screaming out into the sunshine, jump in our cars and then sit fuming for a couple of hours waiting for the traffic to clear – but we'll do so with a joyful heart, knowing that for the next two weeks we're not going to hear anyone starting a sentence with the words "for sure." This is the summer break and we are free and clear in the most guilt-free and officially-regulated way possible. Goodbye autoclave, see ya later race bays, au revoir clever integrated PLM thingy.
Of course, this is a big factory and the security staff will have to prod the darkened corners with a sharp stick to ferret-out the misanthropes who don't want to leave, dragging them kicking and screaming to the doors, propelling them into a shining future with the aid of a size 13 boot. Occasionally one bursts into flames when exposed to sunlight, but that sort of natural wastage is only to be expected.
People like that are why we have to enforce a summer break in the first place. All work and no play may make Jack a dull boy – but if Jack was already a dull boy* then all work and no play may make Jack a very interesting boy who wanders around Milton Keynes bereft of trousers but wearing a tinfoil helmet because he's convinced the concrete cows are trying to beam messages into his brain from the ghost of Daniel Bernoulli.
There is plenty of inspiration in F1 but there's also a lot of grind – and he who grinds fastest, improves most. The modern teams are set-up around the grind: beavering away to find the thousandths of a second that all add up to glory and adulation. You'd expect to find a couple of seconds over the course of a season – but that's not generally through a Eureka moment, it's finding a thousandth of a second in two thousand new and interesting places. With that sort of focus, taking any time off means giving away performance to any rival who isn't sitting on a beach. Which is how F1 got itself into a state where people who didn't pop into the factory for a couple of hours on Christmas Day felt like they were letting the side down.
The system we have now is better. The factories are locked, the servers shut down. No email, no CAD platform, no store cupboard full of leads for your mechanical clutch self-propelling pencil. No-one has yet thought up a method** of stopping these people sitting at home thinking about F1, but this is the closest thing to it.
Of course, you don't have to work for a team to be obsessed by Formula One, which brings us to you, gentle reader. We're not going to leave you to go cold turkey during the break, thanks to the miracle of modern technology, we've cranked our social media networks to full automatic mode and will continue to deliver content during the break. We'll be playing some of our greatest hits and stuff you may not have seen before. So, if you really can't bear to leave it alone, Spy would entreat you to #HoldMyRedBull for a couple of weeks while I go sit around a pool to conduct repeated failure mode effects analyses on those little umbrellas you get in interesting drinks. TTFN.
*Pretty much a given if Jack works in CFD, vehicle dynamics, stress analysis or quality control.
**Not a legal method, anyway.